The Exposure Theory of Access: Why Some Firms Seek More Access to Incumbents than Others

70 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2015

See all articles by Alexander Fouirnaies

Alexander Fouirnaies

Harris School at University of Chicago

Andrew Hall

Stanford University

Date Written: August 27, 2015

Abstract

Studies of American politics consistently find little link between campaign contributions and electoral and policy outcomes, concluding that donors gain little from donating. Despite this, the donations of access-oriented interest groups continue to generate a large part of incumbents' financial advantage in U.S. legislative campaigns. We argue that we can learn directly about the motivations of interest groups, and indirectly about the possible value that they extract from incumbents, by examining differences in the degree to which they seek access. Specifically, we construct a measure of firm-level exposure to regulation using the text of over 170,000 SEC filings, and we use a variety of empirical techniques to estimate how firms' sensitivity to incumbency varies with exposure. The results indicate that firms seek more access to incumbents when they are more exposed to regulation. Exposure to the effects of policy decisions therefore appears to be an important motivator of firm contribution behavior, suggesting that firms seek access in order to influence policy, and that they benefit, or at the very least believe that they benefit, from doing so.

Suggested Citation

Fouirnaies, Alexander and Hall, Andrew, The Exposure Theory of Access: Why Some Firms Seek More Access to Incumbents than Others (August 27, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2652361 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2652361

Alexander Fouirnaies

Harris School at University of Chicago ( email )

Harris School of Public Policy
1155 E 60th St
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
+17732942341 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.fouirnaies.com

Andrew Hall (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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